Wednesday, May 22, 2024

For the Moment…

A few thoughts on the topics of the day….

One-Issue Voter

No, not abortion, not Israel, not Trump Derangement Syndrome.  My one issue is the non-aggression principle (NAP).  A politician who speaks to this and has a track record of living to this will get my vote.  Not that it will make any difference…. (for sure, not since November 22, 1963).

Now, the application of the NAP takes some unpacking.  There are self-described libertarians who are on all sides of almost all issues, each one claiming he is making the thin libertarian argument.  I spent the first several years of this blog working out my views on several such seemingly controversial topics; the libertarian answer turned out not to be so difficult for me:

·         Abortion (no)

·         The Jab and other such forced medical treatments (no, yet, stunningly, many so-called libertarians went haywire about this)

·         Open borders (the NAP can’t answer this question in a world where the state prevents me from defending my private property; the closest approximation given state control is to answer “no”)

·         Foreign wars (no)

·         Foreign aid (who would have thought this would be controversial amongst libertarians…October 7 blew this door wide open, at least for one very prominent libertarian)

·         Secession and decentralization in state governance (yes, always)

Of course, I could simplify all of this by just saying “property rights,” but as this would eliminate most forms of taxation, well…in a world of humans, I can’t afford to be a purist.

There are hundreds of candidates who oppose the taking of life in the womb yet fully support the taking of life in places like Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza.  There are hundreds who take the exact opposite view on each. 

“My body, my choice” is supported by those who want to murder unborn infants, yet is denied by the same people when it comes to penetrating my skin with a foreign object.

There are hundreds who profess Christianity yet have yet to discover a war they didn’t like.  There are some who claim to desire border control yet at the same time have no problem voting to invade my personal borders.

There are a handful who oppose foreign aid, except foreign aid for the land-based aircraft carrier also known as the fifty-first state.

There are none, or none that I am aware of, who support plebiscites to determine secession and decentralization. 

If It’s True…

…then no law is needed to protect it.  Just open discussion among honest participants.  If it’s true, then cancel culture is exactly the opposite tool to be applied – again, open discussion will expose the lies and offer the means to land on the truth.

There is a panic about what has recently happened on college campuses, a panic about how views are changing regarding that aforementioned fifty-first state.  The panic is resulting in proposed laws, as well as banishment and isolation.

But truth doesn’t need any such protection offered by laws or cancel culture; only lies do.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Christian Zionism (simplified): unquestioning and unreserved support the state of Israel; the Battle of Armageddon; an army of two-hundred million; total destruction.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Summer of Love

 

In fact, the latest quest for transcendence would lead the West into a spiritual freefall. … The plunge began in a corner of Christendom called hippiedom.

The Age of Nihilism: Christendom from the Great War to the Culture Wars, by John Strickland

While rejecting Christianity, this hippiedom couched itself in an expressly transcendent character.  There was an earnest religiosity.  They had their sacraments: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. 

The science of inebriation: Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland developed the synthetic chemical, lysergic acid diethylamide: LSD.  The firm brought the drug to market, despite – or maybe because of – the chemist who invented it having reported experiencing an assault by demonic beings after taking a sample.

Mescaline.  Aldous Huxley was a big fan.  He would publish an account of his experience.  After graduating to LSD, he spent his days on acid trips and writing about the effects.  Confronted with terminal cancer, he instructed his wife to give him a lethal dose….

Timothy Leary.  He would get high with students at Harvard.  He described drugs as a sacrament: “…a visible external thing which turns the key to the inner doors.”  At his twelve-year-old daughter’s birthday party, he plied the guests with drugs.  One of the guests attempted to rape his daughter, which brought Leary to ponder why such an action is considered wrong. 

The second main element in this culture was sexual promiscuity – a means of linking one’s transcendence with another.  All boundaries of sexuality were dissolved; restraints in place for centuries were abandoned.  Public nudity, movies, adultery, swinging.

The third element was rock and roll.  Rhythm and Blues. Elvis Presley and his hips.  But the main event was to be found in The Beatles, whose career is a microcosm of the changing landscape. 

They started with innocuous songs: “Love, Love Me Do.”  Then they discovered acid.  This moved them into what I have always described as their drug-induced era.  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds; A Day in the Life.

The 1967 Summer of Love; Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.  Are you going, with flowers in your hair?  The Monterrey Pop Festival: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who and their drummer Keith Moon.  All three would soon enough die from a drug overdose.  Nihilism on steroids; sex, drugs, and rock and roll all in one package.  Plenty of sacraments, but no ritual murders…until later: Charles Manson.  Woodstock would follow, in 1969. 

This was in the wake of Norman Vincent Peale and his bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 1952.  “The minister of millions,” so wrote one biographer.  Little to do with salvation, but, using Biblical quotes, much to do with achieving the American Dream and the almost limitless potential for self-realization.  I guess this means sanctification, of a sort.

Other Christians wrote in a different manner:

…Richard Niebuhr famously expressed dismay at the liberal theological claim that “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of Christ without a cross.”

Other notable Protestant leaders would come to a similar point, recognizing a proper relationship between God and man. 

Abortion: Howard Moody, a Greenwich Village Baptist preacher, formed a nationwide Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, designed to help women bypass state laws that prevented them from ending unwanted pregnancies.  Mainline Protestant bodies would join in: the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ.  The United Methodist Church offered office space in Washington DC.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Sound of Inevitability

 

Nevertheless, however fervently Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox writers called nihilistic Christendom back from the abyss, theirs remained little more than a cry in the wilderness.

The Age of Nihilism: Christendom from the Great War to the Culture Wars, by John Strickland

Communism and liberalism (of a sort) came out of World War Two as victors.  Communism would fall first, at least its Soviet incarnation.  Liberalism would limp along, albeit that limp grew increasingly more noticeable over time.

Secular ideology was not the solution; utopia, whether communism or liberalism, was a failure.  While many Christians continued to pursue utopia, there were those who saw the problem clearly.  Nicolas Berdyaev would write:

“…what is taking place in the world today is not a crisis of humanism (that is a topic of secondary importance), but a crisis of humanity.”

It was a process of dehumanization in all phases of culture and social life; most importantly, the dehumanization of moral life.  Man ceased to have any value at all; to be powerless and to be replaced.

Referring to C.S. Lewis:

To confront this development, the Oxford literary scholar and accidental theologian wrote a book with the dystopian title The Abolition of Man (1943).

Man was reduced to instinct, and he was allowed only his rational mind to confront this life.  In other words, men without chests.

T. S. Eliot would write (sounding a lot like Doug Wilson):

“…we must abandon the notion that the Christian should be content with freedom of cultus…. The Christian can be satisfied with nothing less than a Christian organization of society.”

Not that every member of society need be a Christian, but it would be a society that the natural end of man is acknowledged for all, with the supernatural end of beatitude for the Christian.

Absent this, in other words, and continuing down the slide of secularism, totalitarianism was the likely outcome.  Yes, perhaps a soft totalitarianism, but it would be totalitarianism nonetheless. 

Stalin was out, Kruschev was in.  Although a true believer in communism, he at least toned down the actions of the police state within the Soviet Union.  But it remained totalitarian.

Liberalism fared little better; this was even anticipated by many.  Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World offered a picture of this illiberal future dressed in liberal garb.  Totalitarianism was the inevitable destiny for the West:

“The quaint old forms – elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts, and all the rest – will remain.  The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism.”

Yes, the forms remain: we still pretend to hold elections, pretend that there is a Supreme Court that applies justice, pretend that our parliament represents us and upholds the Constitution.  But it is all a façade, a Potemkin Village of governance.